Book: I Am a Mute Iraqi with a Voice by Weam Namoucategories: Book, Iraqi Americans, Chaldeans, Cultural Identity, Cultural Acclimation, Iraq War, Poetry
Weam Namouabout this book: When I had my first child nine years ago, I thought I would have to give up writing until she started preschool. I had by then written three novels and, given the demands of motherhood, I knew I could not easily formulate on paper a dozen sentences, let alone a 300 page manuscript. Then one day, while my daughter was taking her nap, I sat on the couch with a pen and paper and wrote a story through a poem. This was not my first poem.
I wrote my first poem in 2001 when I attended the Prague Summer Seminar that was sponsored by the University of New Orleans. Before that, poetry was as foreign to me as Baghdad is to westerners. Studying a new form of writing in such a structurally beautiful and strikingly colorful city proved to be quite natural. I would grab a coffee and croissant every morning from a local café, head to Charles University, founded in 1348, and sit in a classroom taught by American poet Anne Marie Macari. I listened to poetry readings by the late, renowned Czech author Arnost Lustig and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine.
I enjoyed plenty of goulash, strolls down Charles Bridge, and walks on park trails lined with pear trees. The experience in Prague filled me with a love for poetry, but I did not start writing poems again until six years later, when I became a mother. My creativity found an outlet through this language and my soul collected joy as I placed literature on paper in between cooking a curry stew or while cartoons held my children's attention. Within a poem, I discovered I could share an intimacy with literature without the pressure and length of time that a novel required. It was like enjoying a meal with a loved one. You give those moments your time and energy and then each one goes their separate way. With a novel, you feel attached at the hip for a year or two.
Over the next ten years, I managed to return to writing 300-plus-page manuscripts, memoirs this time. But my love for poetry has always remained, leading me to get published in national and international journals such as World Literature Today. I Am a Mute Iraqi with a Voice is a collection of 73 poems I have written.
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